What is a Sleeping Disorder
Sleep helps restore our mental and physical energy, and many of us take it for granted. However, almost one in four Americans, and as many as one in two people aged 65 and over, suffer from some type of sleep disorder. A persistent or severe sleep complaint may require medical attention. Types of sleep disorders include:
Narcolepsy: An ailment that causes excessive sleepiness, typically associated with episodes of sudden loss of muscle tone, vivid hallucinations occurring just before sleep and the transient sensation of being paralyzed during the transition between sleep and wakefulness.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS): This is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that causes people to stop breathing many times while they sleep. These episodes often last between 10 and 90 seconds, and may occur hundreds of times each night.
Psychophysiologic Insomnia: The inability to fall asleep and stay asleep, often the result of emotional tension and agitation as well as heartburn, poor sleep habits, alcohol, medications or sleep apnea.
Periodic Limb Movement Diorder (PLMD): Periodic episodes of leg jerks or movements that disrupt sleep.
Understanding and Recognizing the Symptoms
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Inability to fall asleep, inability to stay asleep, awaking too early
- Loud and heavy snoring or irregular breathing during sleep
- Sleep walking and other sleep disturbance behaviors
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
- Frequent leg movements or jerks while sleeping
- Frequent morning headaches
- Sleep walking, sleep talking, grinding of the teeth
- Treatment Methods for Sleeping Disorders
Sleeping disorders can be treated in many ways. Sleep apnea and severe snoring are usually cared for with an air pressure device; most commonly, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
About CPAP - This is a small air blower and is connected by a flexible hose to a soft, plastic mask. At bedtime each night the mask is placed over the nose and the blower sends a gentele, steady stream of air through the nose and into the throat, helping to keep the throat structures from collapsing and blocking the air passage. The air pressure is customized to meet your needs, and may take some adjustments before it works properly.
Oral Appliances - Oral appliances can be worn in the mouth at night to help quiet snoring and to treat mild cases of sleep apnea. These devices come in many shapes and styles. Some hold the whole jaw slightly forward, while others hold the tongue forward to keep it from blocking the throat. If an oral device is right for you, you will first go through a sleep study, and then be referred to a specially trained dentist for an examination and fitting. It is important to work closely with your doctor and dental professional to find the device that best meets your needs.
Surgery - If other treatments are not successful, your doctor may recommend surgery. Several surgical options can treat sleep-related breathing problems. Most surgeries make the airway larger by tightening or removing structures in the throat. Other procedures unblock the nose or reposition the jaw.
Uvolopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), the most common type of surgery for snoring and sleep apnea, involves removing the uvula, part of the soft palate and the tonsils from the throat. This procedure often stops the throat structures from rattling, which causes snoring.
Weight Loss - Being overweight is associated with snoring and sleep disordered breathing. If you are overweight and suffer from a sleeping disorder, talk to your physician to develop a weight loss program.
Our doctors and staff here at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center's Sleep Center can work with you to develop a treatment program for you. We want you to wake up feeling refreshed and looking forward to the day!